06BANGKOK2988 PRIVY COUNCILOR ON THAI POLITICAL SITUATION
This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
180753Z May 06
“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 002988
PACOM FOR FPA HUSO
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/18/2016
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, MARR, TH, Thai Political Updates
SUBJECT: PRIVY COUNCILOR ON THAI POLITICAL SITUATION
Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (a and d).
1. (C) SUMMARY. Privy Councilor Surayud Chulanont told
the Ambassador that he is convinced Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra will attempt to reenter Thai politics after a
brief hiatus. Surayud agreed with suggestions that Thaksin
might be hoping to capitalize on his close relationship with
the Crown Prince and resume his political career after the
78-year old King\’s death. Surayud hoped that the Thai
intellectual class could help educate the Thai working class
about the threat Thaksin posed to Thai democracy. While
acknowledging that the Thai military was moving towards
becoming apolitical, Surayud voiced concerns that a faction
of the Thai Army might be tempted to move in support of
Thaksin. END SUMMARY.
ROLE OF THE ARMY
2. (C) During a May 17 meeting at the Ambassador\’s
residence with visiting Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs ADM
Edmund Giambastiani, Privy Councilor Surayud explained that
certain unnamed politicians loyal to Prime Minister Thaksin
were attempting to influence some Army officers to move in
support of Thaksin. While acknowledging that the Royal Thai
Army had come a long way since he had been Army Chief and
Supreme Commander, Surayud noted that it would likely be some
time before they were completely out of politics. Surayud
suggested, however, that the majority of Army officers
favored maintaining neutrality.
BUDGET AND ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF THE STALEMATE
3. (C) Surayud expressed concern that the ongoing political
stalemate would likely cause budget woes for the armed
services. He said that, without a sitting Parliament, the
armed services would be unable to submit new budget requests
and that, absent a budget, Thai regulations prevented the
military from using more than one-third of the previous
year\’s budget to operate. He suggested that the short term
impact of the political uncertainty could be managed but
worried that the long-term effects could hurt foreign
investment and growth. Surayud agreed that both political
parties were aware of risks to the economy but remained more
focused on fighting each other.
THE KING SUPPORTS THE CONSTITUTION AND THE JUDICIARY
4. (C) Surayud explained that the King\’s recent remarks to
key judges emphasizing his position as a \”monarch under the
Constitution\” were made in part as a response to allegations
made in Paul Handley\’s yet-to-be-published book \”The King
Never Smiles\” which assert that the King has little respect
for democratic principles. Surayud was convinced that the
King intended to see the present political stand-off resolved
through the courts. Surayud went on to say that his contacts
within the judiciary expected it would take at least two or
three months before the courts would be able to render
decisions in all of the cases having an impact on the
THAKSIN WILL PROBABLY COME BACK
5. (C) Surayud expected Thaksin to return to politics after
a short hiatus. He suggested that the Thai intelligentsia
should work to educate Thai working class Thaksin supporters
about the risks Thaksin posed to Thai democratic
institutions. If the educated class did not have enough time
to sway those supporters, Surayud expected Thaksin would have
a very strong chance of returning to power.
6. (C) In a pull-aside subsequent to the meeting, Surayud
told the Ambassador that he agreed with speculation that
Thaksin might be waiting until the King dies before resuming
his political career, noting that Thaksin had invested
heavily in cultivating good relations with the Crown Prince.
Surayud also seemed surprised when told that, during his
recent visit to foreign capitals, Thaksin had been telling
his interlocutors that the King had asked him to step down.
Although not present during the King\’s April 4 meeting with
Thaksin, Surayud had earlier told the Ambassador that the
King had not directly asked Thaksin to step down.